The last time Louis CK played Dublin, he was bombing in support to Des Bishop at the Carlsberg Comedy Carnival in 2008. How times have changed. A couple of critically acclaimed TV series later (the practically eponymous Louie and the online-only, lo-fi Horace and Pete) and there is barely a spare seat to be had at the cavernous 3Arena on a Monday night.
Though his standup isn’t as freeform existential as his TV shows, there’s an air of the Seinfeld assuredness about Louis as he goes about hitting his usual midlife concerns: Marriage, sex, divorce, daughters, depression, and death.
Louis is so at ease — with the crowd, with the material, with himself as a performer — that he sometimes seems complacent: “I was talking with my daughter yesterday. Or whenever. You know what I mean.”
Some observations are also obvious (looking out a window and being annoyed at what a nice day it is because now you have to go do stuff outside), but a la Jerry Seinfeld, they’re also carefully crafted and deftly delivered.
But like the finest of cognac that was 500 years old 300 years ago, Louis’ set takes a big step-up as time passes. His final two tales are weaving, masterful thoughtpieces, the first involving being turned on by Matthew McConaughey in the Magic Mike trailer (he refuses to watch the full film) and suppressing homosexual thoughts: But what if he’s offered the chance to get with a “top-shelf homosexual”, he ponders.
The final story includes his fascinating family history: His Jewish grandfather suppressed his religion because he loved his Catholic grandmother so much.
Louis asks him in his hospital bed at the age of 90 why he didn’t let anyone know he was Jewish until long after they had had children together.
“Because Christianity always wins,” comes the reply. Louis points out how correct he is — this is the year 2016 AD, after all.
Though the show, clocking in at less than two hours, including three supports from the US, is too short for the €50-plus ticket prices, we leave realising we’ve just witnessed a master at work.
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